MNL’s Offseason Plan

PREAMBLE

Given the insane circumstances, 2020 was an unbridled success for the Sox. They were a consensus “ahead of schedule” team until regression bit them at the tail end of the season, but the young core will benefit from the experience.  With all that being said, the window has been blown open. I think it’s possible to both vastly improve the team while also adhering to the $135MM payroll, so let’s follow the Rays’ lead and win a pennant with a less than league average payroll.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

  • Nomar Mazara: $5.6M | $5.9M | $5.7M Non-Tender: Not a horrible idea last season, but we can do better.
  • Carlos Rodón: $4.5M | $4.5M | $4.5M Non-Tender: While I’ll always love hard Carl, it’s time to stop depending on reclamation projects.
  • Lucas Giolito: $2.5M | $5.3M | $2.5M Extend: See below
  • Reynaldo López: $1.7M | $2.2M | $1.7M Tender: As this season showed, depth is crucial, and Rey is cheap enough to keep around.
  • Evan Marshall: $1.3M | $1.9M | $1.4M Tender
  • Adam Engel: $1M | $1.4M | $1M Tender
  • Jace Fry: $800K | $1M | $800K Tender: Worth one more shot to harness his bat-missing stuff with a new pitching coach.
  • Yolmer Sánchez: Uncertain Non-Tender: Wouldn’t be shocked to see him back on a minor league deal

CLUB OPTIONS
Write “pick up” or “decline” or “rework” after the option.

  • Edwin Encarnación: $12M Decline
  • Gio González: $7M ($500K buyout) Decline
  • Leury García: $3.5M ($250K buyout) Decline: This was the only one I thought about, but I need all the pennies I can save.

OTHER IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Try to retain, or let go?

  • Alex Colomé (Made $10,532,500 in 2020) Let Go: Colome has been awesome (if not anxiety-inducing), but I think he’s got a raise coming that I’m not interested in handing out.
  • James McCann (Made $5.4M in 2020) Let Go: James has earned a raise and a promotion, and I can’t justify either of those with Grandal in the fold.
  • Jarrod Dyson (Made $2M in 2020) Let Go

COACHING STAFF

Here’s a first: Pick your manager and pitching coach, with any elaboration.

  • Manager: Alex Cora. I know, this comes with some baggage. However, I really do believe he’s tactically excellent, and with a strong culture already in place, it should be easy for Cora to lean on baseball smarts rather than his…. other talents. I also can’t understate how important having a bi-lingual manager is for this group.
  • Pitching coach: Cora’s Choice. Priority 1: Unlock the Dylan Cease advanced metrics says he can be.

Extensions

Lucas Giolito (6 years, $90 million): Time to lock down your ace. 2021’s salary will be $5 million. 

Andrew Vaughn (6 Years, $40 million): The Eloy/Robert treatment. This is my Opening Day DH, so there will be no service time shenanigans here. 2021 salary will be $1.5 million.

FREE AGENTS

No. 1: RHP Marcus Stroman (5 years, $100 million). 

  • 4 years of $19MM per season
  • Club Option 2025 for $26 MM

Stroman’s personality seems to fit the team nicely, and his profile should play well at Guaranteed Rate Field. I know there’s a push for the higher ceiling Bauer, but his aversion to long term deals, personality, and price tag didn’t seem to fit.

No. 2: LHP Jose Quintana (2 years, $17 million). 

  • 2021: $8 million
  • 2022: Club Option for $9 million

I’ve already seen lots of plans bringing Q back, and it’s because he makes sense. He’s not the same guy he was BC (before Cubs) but he’s a fan favorite who can hopefully round out the back end of the rotation.

No. 3: RF Jackie Bradley Jr.  (3 years, $36 million). 

While Springer would be a home run signing here, I really believe he’s out the Sox’s price range. Brantley’s age combined with the Sox’s track record of squeezing production out of aging hitters terrifies me, so JBJ seems like a solid option here. He’s a platoon candidate with newly minted lefty masher Adam Engel, and his glove in right will be welcome to say the least.

 

No. 4: C Tyler Flowers  (1 year, $3 million).  A veteran backup with above average framing numbers seems like a good bridge to either Collins or Zavala as the 2022 backup.

TRADES

Surprisingly, none. The 2020 season was so unusual for both MiLB and MLB players that I’m hesitant to make any big moves here. I also want to give our new staff one more crack and Cease and Lopez before I ship them out.

SUMMARY

Lineup:  ($76 Million)

  1. Tim Anderson (SS)
  2. Yoan Moncada (3b)
  3. Jose Abreu (1b)
  4. Eloy Jimenez (LF)
  5. Yasmani Grandal (C)
  6. Luis Robert (CF)
  7. Andrew Vaughn (DH)
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr. (RF)
  9. Nick Madrigal (2b)

Bench: ($5.6 million)

  • Tyler Flowers (C)
  • Adam Engel (OF)
  • Danny Mendick (IF)
  • Yolmer/Minor Leaguer Who Impresses (UTIL)

Starting Rotation ($51 million)

  1. Lucas Giolito (RHP)
  2. Dallas Keuchel (LHP)
  3. Marcus Stroman (RHP)
  4. Jose Quintana (LHP)
  5. Dylan Cease/Dane Dunning/ Michael Kopech

Bullpen ($8 Million)

  • Aaron Bummer (LHP)
  • Evan Marshall (RHP)
  • Matt Foster (RHP)
  • Cody Heuer (RHP)
  • Jace Fry (LHP)
  • Garret Crochet (LHP)
  • Jimmy Cordero (RHP)
  • Reynaldo Lopez/Dane Dunning/Dylan Cease

Total: $140.6 million. This is a little over budget, and if I need to trim down below the $135 million I’ll ax the Quintana deal. This team could easily compete for the central and should have the depth to make a run at the American League.

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